The Mississippi Constitution of 1817
Constitution and Form of Government
State of Mississippi
We, the Representatives of the people inhabiting the western part of
the Mississippi Territory, contained within the following limits, to wit:
Beginning on the River Mississippi at the point where the southern boundary
line of the State of Tennessee strikes the same; thence east along the
said boundary line to the Tennessee River; thence up the same to the mouth
of Bear Creek; thence, by a direct line, to the northwest corner of the
county of Washington; thence due south to the Gulf of Mexico; thence westwardly,
including all islands within six leagues of the shore, to the most eastern
junction of Pearl River with Lake Borgne; thence up the said river to
the thirty-first degree of north latitude; thence west along the said
degree of latitude to the Mississippi River, thence up the same to the
beginning; assembled in Convention at the town of Washington, on Monday,
the seventh day of July, one thousand eight hundred and seventeen, in
pursuance of an Act of Congress entitled; An Act to enable the people
of the western part of the Mississippi Territory to form a Constitution
and State government; and for the admission of such State into the Union
on an equal footing with the original States, in order to secure to the
citizens thereof the rights of life, liberty and property, do ordain and
establish the following Constitution and form of government, and do mutually
agree with each other to form ourselves into a free and independent State,
by the name of the State of Mississippi.
Declaration of Rights
That the general, great and essential principles of liberty and free
government may be recognized and established, We Declare:
Section 1. That all freemen, when they form a social compact,
are equal in rights, and that no man or set of men, are entitled to exclusive,
separate, public emoluments or privileges, from the community, but in
consideration of public services.
Section 2. That all political power is inherent in the people,
and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted
for their benefit; and, therefore, they have, at all times, an unalienable
and indefeasible right to alter or abolish their form of government, in
such manner as they may think expedient.
Section 3. The exercise and enjoyment of religious profession
and worship, without discrimination, shall forever be free to all persons
in this State; provided, that the right hereby declared and established
shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness, or justify
practices inconsistent with the peace and safety of this State.
Section 4. No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious
sect or mode of worship.
Section 5. That no person shall be molested for his opinions on
any subject whatever, nor suffer any civil or political incapacity, or
acquire any civil or political advantage, in consequence of such opinions
except in cases provided for in this Constitution.
Section 6. Every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish
his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that
Section 7. No law shall ever be passed to curtail or restrain
the liberty of speech or of the press.
Section 8. In all prosecutions or indictments for libels, the
truth may be given in evidence, and the jury shall have the right to determine
the law and the facts under the direction of the court.
Section 9. That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses,
papers and possessions, from unreasonable seizures or searches, and that
no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or things, shall
issue without describing them as nearly as may be, nor without probable
cause, supported by oath or affirmation.
Section 10. That in all criminal prosecutions, the accused hath
a right to be heard by himself and counsel; to demand the nature and cause
of the accusation, to be confronted by the witnesses against him; to have
compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour; and, in all
prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy public trial, by an
impartial jury of the county; that he cannot be compelled to give evidence
against himself, nor can he be deprived of his life, liberty, or property,
but by due course of law.
Section 11. No person shall be accused, arrested or detained,
except in cases ascertained by law, and according to the forms which the
same has prescribed; and no person shall be punished but in virtue of
a law established and promulgated prior to the offence, and legally applied.
Section 12. That no person shall, for any indictable offence,
be proceeded against criminally by information, except in cases arising
in the land or naval forces, or the militia, when in actual service, or
by leave of the court, for misdemeanor in office.
Section 13. No person shall, for the same offence, be twice put
in jeopardy of life or limb, nor shall any persons property be taken or
applied to public use, without the consent of his representatives, and
without just compensation being made therefor.
Section 14. That all courts shall be open, and every person for
any injury done him in his lands, goods, person or reputation, shall have
remedy by due course of law; and right and justice administered without
sale, denial or delay.
Section 15. That no power of suspending laws shall be exercised
except by the Legislature or its authority.
Section 16. That excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive
fines imposed, nor cruel punishments inflicted.
Section 17. That all prisoners shall, before conviction, be bailable
by sufficient securities, except for capital offences, when the proof
is evident or the presumption great; and the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in case of rebellion,
or invasion, the public safety may require it.
Section 18. That the person of a debtor, where there is not strong
presumption of fraud, shall not be detained in prison after delivering
up his estate for the benefit of his creditors, in such manner as shall
be prescribed by law.
Section 19. That no ex post facto law, nor law impairing the obligation
of a contract, shall be made.
Section 20. That no person shall be attainted of treason, or felony,
by the Legislature.
Section 21. That the estates of suicides shall descend or vest
as in cases of natural death; and if any person shall be killed by casualty,
there shall be no forfeiture by reason thereof.
Section 22. That the citizens have a right, in a peaceable manner,
to assemble together, for their common good, and to apply to those invested
with the powers of government, for redress of grievances, or other proper
purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.
Section 23. Every citizen has a right to bear arms in defence
of himself and the State.
Section 24. No standing army shall be kept up without the consent
of the Legislature, and the military shall, in all cases, and at all times,
be in strict subordination to the civil power.
Section 25. That no soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered
in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but
in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Section 26. That no hereditary emoluments, privileges, or honors
shall ever be granted or confered in this State.
Section 27. No citizen of this State shall be exiled, or prevented
from emigrating, on any pretence whatever.
Section 28. The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate.
Section 29. No person shall be debarred from prosecuting or defending
any civil cause, for or against him or herself, before any tribunal in
this State, by him or herself or counsel, or both.
To guard against transgressions of the high powers, herein delegated,
We Declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general
powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate; and that all
laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.
Distribution of Powers
Section 1. The powers of the government of the State of Mississippi
shall be divided into three distinct departments, and each of them confided
to a separate body of magistracy, to wit: Those which are legislative,
to one; those which are executive, to another; and those which are judicial,
Section 2. No person or collection of persons, being of one of
those departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either
of the others, except in the instances hereinafter expressly directed
Section 1. Every free, white male person of the age of twenty-one
years or upwards, who shall be a citizen of the United States, and shall
have resided in this State one year next preceding an election, and the
last six months within the county, city, or town, in which he offers to
vote, and shall be enrolled in the militia thereof, except exempted by
law from military service; or, having the aforesaid qualifications of
citizenship and residence, shall have paid a State or county tax, shall
be deemed a qualified elector: no elector shall be entitled to vote, except
in the county, city or town (entitled to separate representation) in which
he may reside at the time of the election.
Section 2. Electors shall in all cases, except in those of treason,
felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their
attendance at elections, and in going to and returning from the same.
Section 3. The first election shall be by ballot, and all future
elections by the people shall be regulated by law.
Section 4. The legislative power of the State shall be vested
in two distinct branches; the one to be styled the Senate, the other the
House of Representatives, and both together, The General Assembly of the
State of Mississippi. And the style of their laws shall be Be it enacted
by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Mississippi
in General Assembly convened.
Section 5. The members of the House of Representatives shall be
chosen by the qualified electors, and shall serve for the term of one
year from the day of the commencement of the general election, and no
Section 6. The representatives shall be chosen every year, on
the first Monday and the day following in August.
Section 7. No person shall be a representative unless he be a
citizen of the United States, and shall have been an inhabitant of this
State two years next preceding his election, and the last year thereof
a resident of the county, city or town for which he shall be chosen, and
shall have attained to the age of twenty-two years; and also, unless he
shall hold, in his own right, within this State, one hundred and fifty
acres of land, or an interest in real estate of the value of five hundred
dollars, at the time of his election, and for six months previous thereto.
Section 8. Elections for representatives for the several counties
shall be held at the places of holding their respective courts, or in
the several election districts into which the Legislature may divide any
county; provided, that when it shall appear to the Legislature that any
city or town hath a number of free white inhabitants equal to the ratio
then fixed, such city or town shall have a separate representation, according
to the number of free white inhabitants therein, which shall be retained
so long as such city or town shall contain a number of free white inhabitants
equal to the existing ratio; and thereafter, and during the existence
of the right of separate representation in such city or town, elections
for the county in which such city or town entitled to such representation
is situated shall not be held in such city or town; and provided, that
if the residuum or fraction of any city or town entitled to separate representation
shall, when added to the residuum in the county in which it may lie, be
equal to the ratio fixed by law for one representative, then the aforesaid
county, city or town having the largest residuum shall be entitled to
such representation; and provided also, that when there are two or more
counties adjoining, which have residuums over and above the ratio then
fixed by law, if said residuums, when added together, will amount to such
ratio, in that case, one representative shall be added to the county having
the largest residuum.
Section 9. The General Assembly shall, at their first meeting,
and in the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty, and in not less
than every three nor more than five years thereafter, cause an enumeration
to be made of all the free white inhabitants of the State; and the whole
number of representatives shall, at the several periods of making such
enumeration, be fixed by the General Assembly, and apportioned among the
several counties, cities or towns entitled to separate representation
according to the number of free white inhabitants in each; and shall not
be less than twenty-four, nor greater than thirty-six, until the number
of free white inhabitants shall be eighty thousand; and after that event,
at such ratio that the whole number of representatives shall never be
less than thirty-six nor more than one hundred; provided, however, that
each county shall always be entitled to at least one representative.
Section 10. The whole number of senators shall, at the several
periods of making the enumeration before mentioned, be fixed by the General
Assembly, and apportioned among the several districts to be established
by law, according to the number of free white taxable inhabitants in each,
and shall never be less than one-fourth, nor more than one-third of the
whole number of representatives.
Section 11. The senators shall be chosen by the qualified electors
for three years; and, on their being convened in consequence of the first
election, they shall be divided by lot from their respective districts,
into three classes, as nearly equal as can be. The seats of the senators
of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the first year;
and of the second class, at the expiration of the second year; and of
the third class, at the expiration of the third year; so that one-third
thereof may be annually chosen thereafter.
Section 12. Such mode of classifying new additional senators shall
be observed as will, as nearly as possible, preserve an equality of numbers
in each class.
Section 13. When a senatorial district shall be composed of two
or more counties, it shall not be entirely separated by any county belonging
to another district; and no county shall be divided in forming a district.
Section 14. No person shall be a senator unless he be a citizen
of the United States, and shall have been an inhabitant of this State
four years next preceding his election, and the last year thereof a resident
of the district for which he shall be chosen, and shall have attained
to the age of twenty-six years; and also, unless he shall hold, in his
own right, within this State, three hundred acres of land, or an interest
in real estate of the value of one thousand dollars, at the time of his
election, and for six months previous thereto.
Section 15. The House of Representatives, when assembled, shall
choose a Speaker and its other officers, and the Senate shall choose its
officers, except the President, and each house shall judge of the qualifications
and elections of its own members, but a contested election shall be determined
in such manner as shall be directed by law. A majority of each house shall
constitute a quorum to do business, but a smaller number may adjourn from
day to day, and may compel the attendance of absent members in such manner
and under such penalties as each house may provide.
Section 16. Each house may determine the rules of its own proceedings,
punish members for disorderly behaviour, and, with the consent of two-thirds,
expel a member, but not a second time, for the same cause, and shall have
all other powers necessary for a branch of the Legislature of a free and
Section 17. Each house shall keep a Journal of its proceedings,
and publish the same, excepting such parts as in its judgment, may require
secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either house, on any
question, shall, at the desire of any three members present, be entered
on the journals.
Section 18. When vacancies happen in either house, the Governor,
or the person exercising the powers of the Governor, shall issue writs
of election to fill such vacancies.
Section 19. Senators and representatives shall in all cases, except
of treason, felony, or breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest
during the session of the General Assembly, and in going to and returning
from the same; allowing one day for every twenty miles, such member may
reside from the place at which the General Assembly is convened.
Section 20. Each house may punish by imprisonment, during the
session, any person, not a member, for disrespectful or disorderly behaviour
in its presence, or for obstructing any of its proceedings; provided,
such imprisonment shall not at any time exceed forty-eight hours.
Section 21. The doors of each house shall be open, except on such
occasions as, in the opinion of the house, may require secrecy.
Section 22. Neither house shall, without the consent of the other,
adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in
which they may be sitting.
Section 23. Bills may originate in either house, and be amended,
altered, or rejected by the other; but no bill shall have the force of
a law until, on three several days, it be read in each house, and free
discussion be allowed thereon, unless in cases of urgency, four-fifths
of the house in which the bill shall be depending, may deem it expedient
to dispense with the rules; and every bill having passed both houses shall
be signed by the speaker and president of their respective houses.
Section 24. All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the
House of Representatives, but the Senate may amend or reject them as other
Section 25. Each member of the General Assembly shall receive
from the public treasury a compensation for his services, which may be
increased or diminished by law; but no increase of compensation shall
take effect during the session at which such increase shall have been
Section 26. No senator or representative shall, during the term
for which he shall have been elected, nor for one year thereafter, be
appointed to any civil office of profit under the State, which shall have
been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased during
such term; except such offices as may be filled by elections by the people;
and no member of either house of the General Assembly shall, after the
commencement of the first session of the Legislature, after his election
and during the remainder of the term for which he is elected, be eligible
to any office or place, the appointment to which may be made in whole
or in part by either branch of the General Assembly.
Section 27. No judge of any court of law or equity, Secretary
of State, Attorney General, clerk of any court of record, sheriff, or
collector, or any person holding a lucrative office under the United States,
(the office of postmaster excepted), or this State, shall be eligible
to the General Assembly; provided, that officers in the militia, to which
there is attached no annual salary, or the office of justice of the peace,
or of the quorum, shall not be deemed lucrative.
Section 28. No person who shall have heretofore been, or hereafter
may be, a collector or holder of public moneys, shall have a seat in either
house of the General Assembly, until such person shall have accounted
for, and paid into the treasury, all sums for which he may be accountable.
Section 29. The first election for senators and representatives
shall be general throughout the State, and shall be held on the first
Monday and Tuesday in September next, and thereafter there shall be an
annual election for senators to fill the place of those whose term of
service may have expired.
Section 30. The first session of the General Assembly shall commence
on the first Monday in October next, and be held at the city of Natchez,
and thereafter at such place as may be designated by law; and thereafter
the General Assembly shall meet on the next Monday in November in every
year, and at no other period, unless directed by law, or provided for
by this Constitution.
Section 1. The supreme executive power of this State shall be
vested in a Governor, who shall be elected by the qualified electors,
and shall hold office for two years from the time of his installation,
and until his successor be duly qualified.
Section 2. The returns of every election for Governor shall be
sealed up and transmitted to the seat of government, directed to the Secretary
of State, who shall deliver them to the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
at the next ensuing session of the General Assembly, during the first
week of which session the said Speaker shall open and publish them in
the presence of both houses of the General Assembly. The person having
the highest number of votes shall be Governor; but if two or more shall
be equal and highest in votes, one of them shall be chosen Governor by
the joint ballot of both houses. Contested elections for Governor shall
be determined by both houses of the General Assembly, in such manner as
shall be prescribed by law.
Section 3. The Governor shall be at least thirty years of age,
shall have been a citizen of the United States for twenty years, shall
have resided in this State at least five years next preceding the day
of his election, and shall be seized, in his own right, of a freehold
estate of six hundred acres of land, or of real estate of the value of
$2,000.00, at the time of his election and twelve months previous thereto.
Section 4. He shall at stated times receive a compensation for
his services, which shall not be increased or diminished during the term
for which he shall have been elected.
Section 5. He shall be commander-in-chief of the army and navy
of this State, and of the militia, except when they shall be called into
the service of the United States.
Section 6. He may require information, in writing, from the officers
in the executive department, on any subject relating to the duties of
their respective offices.
Section 7. He may, on extraordinary occasions, convene the General
Assembly at the seat of government, or at a different place, in that shall
have become, since their last adjournment, dangerous from an enemy or
from contagious disorders, and in case of disagreement between the two
houses, with respect to the time of adjournment, adjourn them to such
time as he shall think proper, not beyond the day of the next annual meeting
of the General Assembly.
Section 8. He shall, from time to time, give to the General Assembly
information of the state of government, and recommend to their consideration
such measures as he shall deem expedient.
Section 9. He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
Section 10. In all criminal and penal cases, except in those of
treason and impeachment, he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons
and remit fines and forfeitures, under such rules and regulations as shall
be prescribed by law. In cases of treason, he shall have power to grant
reprieves and pardons, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate,
but may respite the sentence until the end of the next session of the
Section 11. All commissions shall be in the name and by the authority
of the State of Mississippi, be sealed with the State seal, and signed
by the Governor, and attested by the Secretary of State.
Section 12. There shall be a seal of this State, which shall be
kept by the Governor, and used by him officially, and shall be called
the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi.
Section 13. When a vacancy shall happen in any office during the
recess of the General Assembly, the Governor shall have power to fill
the same, by granting a commission, which shall expire at the end of the
next session of the General Assembly, except in cases otherwise directed
by this Constitution.
Section 14. A Secretary of State shall be appointed, who shall
continue in office during the term of two years. He shall keep a fair
register of all the official acts and proceedings of the Governor, and
shall, when required, lay the same, and all papers, minutes, and vouchers
relative thereto, before the General Assembly, and shall perform such
other duties as may be required of by law.
Section 15. Every bill which shall have passed both houses of
the General Assembly shall be presented to the Governor; if he approve
he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections,
to the house in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections
at large upon the journals and proceed to reconsider it; if, after such
reconsideration, two-thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill,
it shall be sent, with the objections, to the other house, by which it
shall be, likewise, reconsidered; if approved by two-thirds of that house
it shall become a law; but in such cases the votes of both houses shall
be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the members voting for
and against the bill shall be entered on the journals of each house respectively.
If any bill shall not be returned by the Governor within six days (Sundays
excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be
law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the General Assembly,
by their adjournment, prevent its return, in which case it shall not be
Section 16. Every order, resolution, or vote, to which the concurrence
of both houses may be necessary, except on questions of adjournment, shall
be presented to the Governor, and before it shall take effect be approved
by him, or being disapproved, shall be repassed by both houses according
to the rules and limitations prescribed in case of a bill.
Section 17. The appointment of all officers, not otherwise directed
by this Constitution, shall be by the joint vote of both houses of the
General Assembly; the votes shall be given vive voce , and recorded in
the public Journal of each house; provided, that the General Assembly
be authorized to provide by law for the appointment of all inspectors,
collectors and their deputies, surveyors of highways, constables, and
such other inferior officers, whose jurisdiction may be confined within
the limits of the county.
Section 18. There shall be also a Lieutenant-Governor, who shall
be chosen at every election for a Governor, by the same persons, in the
same manner, continue in office for the same time, and possess the same
qualifications. In voting for Governor, and Lieutenant-Governor, the electors
shall distinguish whom they vote for as Governor and whom as Lieutenant-Governor.
Section 19. The Lieutenant-Governor shall, by virtue of his office,
be President of the Senate, and have, when in committee of the whole,
a right to debate and vote on all questions, and when the Senate is equally
divided, to give the casting vote.
Section 20. In case of the death, resignation, refusal to serve,
or removal from office of the Governor, or of his impeachment or absence
from the State, the Lieutenant-Governor shall exercise the powers and
authority appertaining to the office of Governor, until another be chosen
at the next periodical election for a Governor, and be duly qualified,
or until the Governor impeached or absent shall be acquitted or return.
Section 21. Whenever the government shall be administered by the
Lieutenant-Governor, or he shall be unable to attend as President of the
Senate, the Senate shall elect one of their own members as President Pro
Tempore. And, if during the vacancy of the office of Governor, the Lieutenant-Governor
shall die, resign, refuse to serve, or be removed from office; or if he
shall be impeached or absent from the State, the President of the Senate
Pro Tempore shall, in like manner, administer the government until he
shall be superseded by a Governor or Lieutenant-Governor. The Lieutenant-Governor
shall, whilst he acts as President of the Senate, receive for his services
the same compensation which shall, for the same period, be allowed to
the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and no more; and during the
time he administers the government as Governor, shall receive the same
compensation which the Governor would have received, had he been employed
in the duties of his office, and no more.
Section 22. The President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall, during
the time he administers the government, receive, in like manner, the same
compensation which the Governor would have received, had he been employed
in the duties of his office, and no more.
Section 23. If the Lieutenant-Governor shall be required to administer
the government, and whilst in such administration, die, resign, or be
absent from the State, during the recess of the General Assembly, it shall
be the duty of the Secretary of State, for the time being, to convene
the Senate for the purpose of choosing a President Pro Tempore.
Section 24. A sheriff, and one or more coroners, shall be elected
in each county by the qualified electors thereof, who shall hold their
offices for two years unless sooner removed.
Section 25. A State Treasurer and an Auditor of Public Accounts
shall be annually appointed.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall provide by law for organizing
and disciplining the militia of this State, in such manner as they shall
deem expedient, not incompatible with the Constitution and laws of the
United States, in relation thereto.
Section 2. Officers of the militia shall be elected or appointed
in such manner as the Legislature shall, from time to time, direct, and
shall be commissioned by the Governor.
Section 3. Those persons who conscientiously scruple to bear arms
shall not be compelled to do so, but shall pay equivalent for personal
Section 4. The Governor shall have power to call forth the militia
to execute the laws of the State, to suppress insurrections, and repel
Section 1. The judicial power of this State shall be vested in
one supreme court, and such superior and inferior courts of law and equity
as the Legislature may, from time to time, direct and establish.
Section 2. There shall be appointed in this State not less than
four nor more than eight judges of the supreme and superior courts, who
shall receive for their services a compensation which shall be fixed by
law, and shall not be diminished during their continuance in office; provided,
that the judge whose decision is under consideration in the supreme court
shall not constitute one of the court to determine the question on such
decision; but it shall be the duty of such judge to report to the supreme
court the reasons upon which his opinion was founded.
Section 3. The State shall be divided into convenient districts,
and each district shall contain not less than three nor more than six
counties. For each district there shall be appointed a judge, who shall,
after his appointment, reside in the district for which he is appointed.
Section 4. The superior court shall have original jurisdiction
in all matters, civil and criminal, within this State, but in civil cases,
only where the matter or sum in controversy exceeds fifty dollars.
Section 5. A superior court shall be held in each county in the
State at least twice in every year. The judges of the several superior
courts may hold courts for each other, when they may deem it expedient,
or as they may be directed by law.
Section 6. The Legislature shall have power to establish a court
or courts of chancery, with exclusive original equity jurisdiction; and
until the establishment of such court or courts, the said jurisdiction
shall be vested in the superior courts respectively.
Section 7. The Legislature shall have power to establish in each
county, within this State, a court of probate, for the granting of letters
testamentary, and of administration, or orphans business, for county police,
and for the trial of slaves.
Section 8. A competent number of justices of the peace shall be
appointed in and for each county, in such mode, and for such term of office,
as the Legislature shall direct. Their jurisdiction, in civil cases, shall
be limited to causes in which the amount in controversy shall not exceed
fifty dollars. And in all cases tried by a justice of the peace, right
of appeal shall be secured, under such rules and regulations as shall
be prescribed by law.
Section 9. The judges of the several courts of this State shall
hold their offices during good behaviour. And for wilful neglect of duty,
or other reasonable cause, which shall not be sufficient ground for an
impeachment, the Governor shall remove any of them on the address of two-thirds
of each house of the General Assembly; provided, however, that the cause
or causes for which such removal shall be required shall be stated at
length in such address, and on the journals of each house; and, provided,
further, that the judge so intended to be removed shall be notified, and
admitted to a hearing in his own defence, before any vote for such address
Section 10. No person who shall have arrived at the age of sixty-five
years shall be appointed to, or continue in, the office of judge in this
Section 11. Each court shall appoint its own clerk, who shall
hold his office during good behaviour, but shall be removable therefrom
for neglect of duty, or misdemeanor in office, by the supreme court, which
court shall determine both the law and the fact; provided, that the clerk
so appointed shall have been a resident of the county in which he is clerk
at least six months previous to his appointment.
Section 12. The judges of the supreme and superior courts shall,
by virtue of their offices, be conservators of the peace throughout the
Section 13. The style of all process shall be The State of Mississippi,
and all prosecution shall be carried on in the name and by the authority
of the State of Mississippi, and shall conclude against the peace and
dignity of the same.
Section 14. There shall be an Attorney General for the State,
and as many district attorneys as the General Assembly may deem necessary,
who shall hold their offices for the term of four years, and shall receive
for their services a compensation which shall not be diminished during
their continuance in office.
Section 1. The House of Representatives shall have the sole power
Section 2. All impeachments shall be tried by the Senate; when
sitting for that purpose the senators shall be on oath or affirmation.
No person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two-thirds of
the members present.
Section 3. The Governor and civil officers shall be liable to
impeachment for any misdemeanor in office; but judgment in such cases
shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification
to hold any office of honour, trust, or profit under this State; but the
party convicted shall, nevertheless, be liable and subject to indictment,
trial and punishment, according to law, as in other cases.
Section 1. Members of the General Assembly, and all officers,
executive and judicial, before they enter on the execution of their respective
offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation, to-wit: I solemnly
swear (or affirm as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution
of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Mississippi,
so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully discharge,
to the best of my abilities, the duties of the office of __________________,
according to law. So help me God.
Section 2. The General Assembly shall have power to pass such
penal laws to suppress the evil practice of dueling, extending to disqualification
from office or the tenure thereof, as they may deem expedient.
Section 3. Treason against the State shall consist only in levying
war against it, or in adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.
No person shall be convicted of treason, unless on the testimony of two
witnesses to the same overt act, or his own confession in open court.
Section 4. Every person shall be disqualified from holding an
office or place of honour or profit, under the authority of this State,
who shall be convicted of having given, or offered, any bribe to procure
Section 5. Laws shall be made to exclude from office and from
suffrage those who shall thereafter be convicted of bribery, perjury,
forgery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors. The privileges of free
suffrage shall be supported by laws regulating elections, and prohibiting,
under adequate penalties, all undue influence thereon from power, bribery,
tumult, or other improper conduct.
Section 6. No person who denies the being of God, or of a future
state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office in the civil department
of this State.
Section 7. Ministers of the Gospel being by their profession,
dedicated to God, and the care of souls, ought not to be diverted from
the great duties of their functions. Therefore, no minister of the Gospel,
or priest of any denomination whatever, shall be eligible to the office
of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or to a seat in either branch of the
Section 8. No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence
of an appropriation made by law, nor shall any appropriation of money
for the support of an army be made for a longer term than one year; and
a regular statement and account of the receipts and expenditures of all
public money shall be published annually.
Section 9. No bank shall be incorporated by the Legislature without
the reservation of a right to subscribe for, in behalf of the State, at
least, one-fourth part of the capital stock thereof, and the appointment
of a proportion of the directors equal to the stock subscribed for.
Section 10. The General Assembly shall pass no law impairing the
obligation of contracts, prior to the year one thousand eight hundred
and twenty-one, on account of the rate of interest, fairly agreed on in
writing between the contracting parties, for a bona fide loan of money;
but they shall have power to regulate the rate of interest where no special
contract exists in relation thereto.
Section 11. The General Assembly shall direct by law in what manner
and in what courts suits may be brought against the State.
Section 12. All officers of the State, the term of whose appointment
is not otherwise directed by this Constitution, shall hold their offices
during good behaviour.
Section 13. Absence on business of this State or of the United
States, or on a visit, or necessary private business, shall not cause
a forfeiture of a residence once obtained.
Section 14. It shall be the duty of the General Assembly to regulate
by law the cases in which deductions shall be made from the salaries of
public officers for neglect of duty in their official capacity, and the
amount of such deduction.
Section 15. No member of Congress, nor any person holding any
office of profit or trust under the United States, or either of them,
the office of postmaster excepted, or under any foreign power, shall hold
or exercise any office of trust under this State.
Section 16. Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to
good government, the preservation of liberty, and the happiness of mankind,
schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged in this
Section 17. Divorces from the bonds of matrimony, shall not be
granted but in cases provided for by law, by suit in Chancery; provided
that no decree for divorce shall have effect until the same shall be sanctioned
by two-thirds of both branches of the General Assembly.
Section 18. Returns of all elections by the people shall be made
to the secretary of state.
Section 19. No new county shall be established by the General
Assembly which shall reduce the county or counties, or either of them,
from which it may be taken to a less content than five hundred and seventy-six
square miles, nor shall any new county be laid off of less contents.
Section 20. That the General Assembly shall take measures to preserve
from unnecessary waste or damage such lands as are or may hereafter be
granted by the United States for the use of schools, within each township
in this State, and apply the funds which may be raised from such lands,
by rent or lease, in strict conformity to the object of such grant, but
no lands granted for the use of such township schools shall ever be sold
by any authority in this State.
Section 1. The General Assembly shall have no power to pass laws
for the emancipation of slaves, without the consent of their owners, unless
where a slave shall have rendered to the State some distinguished service,
in which case the owner shall be paid a full equivalent for the slaves
so emancipated. They shall have no power to prevent immigrants to this
State from bringing with them such persons as are deemed slaves by the
laws of any one of the United States, so long as any person of the same
age or description shall be continued in slavery by the laws of this State;
provided, that such person or slave be the bona fide property of such
immigrants; and provided, also, that laws may be passed to prohibit the
introduction into the State of slaves who may have committed high crimes
in other States. They shall have power to pass laws to permit the owners
of slaves to emancipate them, saving the rights of creditors, and preventing
them from becoming a public charge. They shall have full power to prevent
slaves from being brought into this State as merchandise; and also to
oblige the owners of slaves to treat them with humanity, to provide them
necessary clothing and provision, to abstain from all injuries to them
extending to life or limb, or in case of their neglect or refusal to comply
with the directions of such laws, to have such slave or slaves sold for
the benefit of the owner or owners.
Section 2. In the prosecution of slaves for crime, no inquest
by a grand jury shall be necessary, but the proceedings in such cases
shall be regulated by law, except that, in capital cases, the General
Assembly shall have no power to deprive them of an impartial trial by
a petit jury.
Mode of Revising the Constitution
Section 1. That whenever two-thirds of the General Assembly shall
deem it necessary to amend or change this Constitution, they shall recommend
to the electors, at the next election for members of the General Assembly,
to vote for or against a Convention, and if it shall appear that a majority
of the citizens of the State voting for representatives, have voted for
a Convention, the General Assembly shall, at their next session, call
a Convention, to consist of as many members as there may be in the General
Assembly, to be chosen by the qualified electors, in the manner, and at
the times and places of choosing members of the General Assembly, which
Constitution shall meet within three months after the said election, for
the purpose of revising, amending, or changing the Constitution.
Section 1. That no inconvenience may arise from a change of territorial
to a permanent State government, it is declared that all rights, actions,
prosecutions, claims, and contracts, as well of individuals, as of bodies
corporate, shall continue as if no such change had taken place.
Section 2. All fines, penalties, forfeitures and escheats, accruing
to the Mississippi Territory, within the limits of this State, shall inure
to the use of the State.
Section 3. The validity of all bonds and recognizances executed
to the Governor of the Mississippi Territory shall not be impaired by
the change of government, but may be sued for, and recovered in the name
of the Governor of the State of Mississippi, and his successors in office;
and all criminal or penal actions arising or now depending within the
limits of this State, shall be prosecuted to judgment and execution in
the name of the said State. All causes of action arising to individuals,
and all suits at law or in equity, now depending in the several courts
within the limits of this State, and not already barred by law, may be
commenced in, or transferred to, such court as may have jurisdiction thereof.
Bonds, recognizances, and other papers and writings, properly belonging
in the eastern section of the Mississippi Territory, not comprised within
the limits of this State, shall be transferred to the offices to which
they severally belong.
Section 4. All officers, civil and military, now holding commissions
under the authority of the United States, of the Mississippi Territory,
within this State, shall continue to hold and exercise their respective
offices, under the authority of this State, until they shall be superseded
under the authority of this Constitution; and shall receive from the treasury
of this State the same compensation which they heretofore received for
their services, in proportion to the time they shall be so employed. The
Governor shall have power to fill vacancies by commissions, to expire
so soon as elections or appointments can be made to such office by the
authority of this Constitution.
Section 5. All laws and parts of laws now in force in Mississippi
Territory, and not repugnant to the provisions of this Constitution, shall
continue in force as the laws of this State, until they expire by their
own limitation, or shall be altered or repealed by the Legislature thereof.
Section 6. Every free white male person, above the age of twenty-one
years, who shall be a citizen of the United States and resident in this
State at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be deemed
a qualified elector, at the first election to be held in this State, anything
in the Constitution to the contrary notwithstanding.
Section 7. The president of this Convention shall issue writs
of election directed to the sheriffs of the several counties, requiring
them to cause an election to be held for a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor,
representative to the Congress of the United States, members of the General
Assembly and sheriffs of the respective counties, at the respective places
of elections, in said counties, except in the county of Warren, in which
county the election shall be held at the court house, instead of the place
provided by law, on the first Monday and the day following in September
next; which election shall be conducted in the manner prescribed by the
existing election laws of the Mississippi Territory, and the said Governor,
Lieutenant-Governor, and members of the General Assembly, then duly elected,
shall continue to discharge the duties of their respective offices for
the time prescribed by this Constitution, and until their successors be
Section 8. Until the first enumeration shall be made, as directed
by this Constitution, the county of Warren shall be entitled to one representative,
the county of Claiborne to two representatives, the county of Jefferson
to two representatives; the county of Adams to four representatives, the
county of Franklin to one representative, the county of Wilkinson to three
representatives, the county of Amite to three representatives, the county
of Pike to two representatives, the county of Lawrence to one representative,
the county of Marion to one representative, the county of Hancock to one
representative, the county of Greene to one representative, the county
of Wayne to one representative, the county of Jackson to one representative.
The counties of Warren and Claiborne shall be entitled to one senator,
the county of Adams to one senator, the county of Jefferson to one senator,
the county of Wilkinson to one senator, the county of Amite to one senator,
the counties of Franklin and Pike to one senator, the counties of Lawrence,
Marion and Hancock to one senator, the counties of Greene, Wayne and Jackson
to one senator.
Section 9. The Governor may appoint and commission an additional
judge, or one of the former judges of the superior court, whose commission
shall expire so soon as appointments can be made under the Constitution.
It shall be the duty of the judge so appointed or one of the former territorial
judges, to hold superior courts in the counties of Jackson, Greene, Wayne
and Hancock, at the time heretofore prescribed by law; provided, that
if either of the former territorial judges, in addition to his duty, in
the western counties, perform such duty, and no additional judge be appointed,
he shall receive an extra compensation, proportioned to the amount of
his salary and term of service rendered. If an additional judge be appointed,
he shall receive the same compensation for his services as the other judges
of the superior court.
Section 10. The sheriff of Wayne County shall, within ten days
after the election, make return of the number of votes for senator in
his county to the sheriff of Claiborne County, who shall be the returning
officer for the district. The sheriff of Pike County shall, within ten
days after the election, make return of the number of votes for senator
in his county to the sheriff of Franklin County, who shall be the returning
officer for the district. The sheriffs of Hancock and Lawrence Counties
shall, within ten days after the election, make return of the number of
votes for senator in their respective counties to the sheriff of Marion
County, who shall be returning officer for the district. The sheriffs
of Jackson and Wayne Counties shall, within ten days after the election,
make return of the number of votes for senator in their respective counties
to the sheriff of Greene County, who shall be the returning officer for
Whereas, it is required by the act of Congress under which this Convention
is assembled that certain provisions should be made by an ordinance of
Therefore, this Convention, for and in behalf of the people inhabiting
this State, do ordain, agree and declare that they forever disclaim all
rights or title to the waste or unappropriated lands lying within the
State of Mississippi, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole
and entire disposition of the United States, and, moreover, that each
and every tract of land sold by Congress shall be and remain exempt from
any tax laid by the order or under the authority of this State, whether
for State, county, township, parish, or other purposes whatever, for the
term of five years, from and after the respective days of sale thereof,
and that the lands belonging to the citizens of the United States, residing
without this State shall never be taxed higher than the lands belonging
to persons residing within the same; that no taxes shall be imposed on
lands the property of the United States, and that the River Mississippi,
and the navigable rivers and waters leading into the same, or into the
Gulf of Mexico, shall be common highways and forever free, as well to
the inhabitants of this State as to other citizens of the United States,
without any duty, tax, import, or toll therefor imposed by this State;
and this ordinance is hereby declared irrevocable without the consent
of the United States.
Done in Convention at the town of Washington, the fifteenth day of August,
in the year of our Lord 1817, and in the forty-second year of the Independence
of the United States of America.
President of the Convention and Delegate
from the County of Adams
James C. Wilkins
Hezekiah J. Balch
Joseph E. Davis
Joshua G. Clark
Henry D. Downs
Abram M. Scott
Jerard C. Brandon
William J. Minton
James Y. MNabb
George W. King
Louis Winston, Secretary of the Convention